Two whales have been washed up on UK beaches within hours of each other, both believed to have been hit by passing ships. The first incident was reported in Scotland, when a minke whale, thought to have been killed by a boat propeller, came ashore on Easter Ross beach. The whale, which was more than three metres long, was first spotted floating by a local lifeboat who confirmed that the whale’s tail was missing.
The second whale, a fully grown female minke measuring around 35 feet, was washed up on a Ministry of Defence (MOD) beach at Shoebury in England Local coastguard officials stated that the whale may have been hit by a passing ship in the Thames Estuary.
Minke whales are solitary creatures, and found in many oceans across the world.
Whales and dolphins are often unable to avoid ships and many collisions go unnoticed meaning that the number of deaths is far higher than figures suggest. Studies in recent years indicate that, for populations in certain areas, up to one third of whales found dead display signs of having died due to a collision with a boat or ship. Severe injuries may mean that a whale dies as a result many years later, but can also have an impact on the animal’s social group.
WDC is working with international bodies and on projects to reduce vessel strikes all around the world, including in areas where whales or dolphins are particularly vulnerable.